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David Heyes

David Heyes: Bessy's Beginner Bass Quartets for junior double bass quartet

David Heyes: Bessy's Beginner Bass Quartets for junior double bass quartet

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About the Quartets

Bessy’s Beginner Bass Quartets are for junior double bass quartet, or larger forces, and are primarily in 1st position, with a few easy harmonics in 4th position. A number of playing techniques such as col legno, sul ponticello, Bartók pizz. and bass percussion creates interest and contrasts.

1) Bessy's Big Day out is lively and fun with a limited number of notes and rhythms suitable for young bassists. The addition of harmonics in 4th position creates height and bass 4 grounds the piece with pizzicato open strings, bass percussion using a chopstick, ending with a strong Bartók pizz. note to bring the piece to a successful conclusion. The melodic interest is passed between basses 1 and 3 but each player is an important part of the team.

2) Bessy's Highland Fling uses the 'Scotch snap' throughout, alongside bagpipe effects, producing a piece that is Scottish-influenced from beginning to end. There

is a strong forward momentum, with the repetition of themes and rhythms, and the addition of bass percussion from Bass 4 adds character and drive. More challenging than 'Bessy's Big Day Out', this is a fun and energetic piece which would make an ideal final item in any concert."

Composer's Note

David Heyes writes: "Composing for the beginner bass ensemble is a great challenge to a composer and, fortunately, my experience as a professional double bassist and teacher helped with many aspects of both pieces. The low tessitura of the beginner bass quartet has the potential to be muddy and unfocused but, with careful editing and writing, the textures can be open and bright offering exciting challenges for the performers alongside music that is enjoyable for audiences. I tried to make each part interesting and Bass 4 only plays open strings alongside bass percussion. Both pieces will work as a quartet or with massed forces and it was also interesting to create versions for double bass trio.

About May Halyburton

May Halyburton, the founder and driving force behind the Bessy Bass empire, has written an exciting story for each quartet which can be read out before each piece is played. Both stories are included with the score and parts.

May Hayburton writes: "Bessy Bass is a young double bass from Scotland who loves to travel and have adventures with other instrument family and friends. As the central character in the “Around the World with Bessy” series of children’s books with music, Bessy learns a little about the language, culture, and of course, the music of each destination she visits, as well as the importance of friendship, kindness, and inclusion. Through her stories, Bessy aims to sow the seed of curiosity about the

wonderful world of music in the minds of her young readers, with the hope that they might even be inspired to find their musical instrument. Bessy was overwhelmed when the wonderful double bassist and composer, David Heyes offered to write a suite of beginner double bass quartets for her! David suggested the idea of accompanying each piece with a short “Bessy” story and so began our exciting collaboration."

Image by Sarah Poole

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